Review: Justice League Dark #5

[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]

Writer: James Tynion IV

Pencils: Daniel Sampere

Inks: Juan Albarran

Colors: Adriano Lucas

Letters: Rob Leigh

 

Summary

After quite literally melting into a puddle during a time of crisis, Detective Chimp is feeling all kinds of useless for all things in the magical department.  Nothing like having to take responsibility for an entire world you’ve inherited to snap you out of a funk am I right?  Meanwhile, Swamp Thing and Constantine cross paths with Dr. Fate and garner the attention of someone even more powerful.  Just another work day for Justice League Dark!

 

Positives

I couldn’t start this review with anything else but Detective Chimp.  This is a character who has been through so much, but has never really gotten the chance shown us how he’s felt.  Tynion has wisely taken a page from Tom King, and has used the 9-panel grid in a very meaningful way, almost as Detective Chimp’s very own confessional.  After losing his best friend, having enormous responsibility thrust upon him, and facing the expectations of others in the magic community, all Detective Chimp can do is just drink, and Tynion makes sure that we feel that loss with him.  The art from Sampere, Albarran, and Lucas is on full display here and all of the somber notes hit perfectly.  I also want to commend Rob Leigh for the way he letters this narration.  The first four pages made me care about Detective Chimp in a way that no other comic has ever done, and he was already one of my favorite characters.

Throughout the beginning of this issue, you can truly see the sadness, cynicism, and loss in Detective Chimp’s eyes, and you can tell how difficult it is for him to return to Myrra.  Even when he makes hilarious offhanded comments there is a pain in his eyes that few other artists have been able to bring to life.  This issue was truly able to pull readers into the story like no other, and when he goes to Myrra to face his demons, the readers are right there with him.

Man-bat is also a very intriguing character in this issue. I admire the direction that Tynion is taking him, as a man of science who desperately wants to understand the world of magic.  I think there is a lot to be told through that avenue and I am excited for his time to shine.  This is also one of the first times since issue #1 when you get a sense that the Justice League Dark aren’t really a cohesive team.  When they go into Myrra, it is not in unison, and when they fight, they do so as individuals.  I think that is important because right now, they are not a league but rather individuals coming together temporarily for a common purpose.

The secondary plot was also quite exciting.  Dr. Fate is being used in a very interesting manner so far in this series, as he is really not Dr. Fate as all, but simply Nabu, the Lord of Order.  Swamp Thing and Constantine make a good team and are able to understand each other, their loss, and their pain quite well, and when someone like the Phantom Stranger enters the fray, it always grabs my attention.  I have always been fascinated by a character so mysterious, and I am excited to see how Tynion’s expanding magical mythos will involve the Phantom Stranger.

Finally, I would also like to say how blown away I was by the splash pages in this book.  There are quite a few of them, and they all look stunning.  The art team did an amazing job on this issue.

Negatives

I’d really like for Swamp Thing to be fleshed out a little more. A lot of his actions are conveyed through narration and its was very hard to get a sense of what he was feeling, especially after the death of the Parliament of Trees.  Swamp thing is more than just a heavy hitter, and he needs some space to express that.

 

Verdict

Tynion to a step inward from expanding the magical mythology of the DCU in order to focus on character, and it really paid off.

 

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Ari Bard

I am currently a Sophomore at Case Western Reserve University studying mechanical engineering. I have been in love with DC since I saw the animated series and movies in the early 2000s. I started reading comics regularly at the start of Rebirth. My favorite character is Martian Manhunter.